2016 NBA Off Season Preview: Memphis Grizzlies

Memphis Grizzlies

2015-2016 Record: 42-40
Projected Maximum Cap Space: $38,082,020.00

Players under contract for 2016-2017

C Marc Gasol ($21,165,675)
PF Zach Randolph ($10,000,000)
PF Brandan Wright ($5,709,880)
SF Tony Allen ($5,000,000)
SF Vince Carter ($4,264,057)
SG Jordan Adams ($1,465,080)
PF Jarell Martin ($1,286,160)

Team Option

SG Lance Stephenson ($9,405,000)
PF JaMychal Green ($980,431)

Unrestricted Free Agents

PG Mike Conley
C Chris Andersen
SF Matt Barnes
SG PJ Hairston
PG Jordan Farmar
SF Xavier Munford
SG Bryce Cotton


2015-2016 Recap

The Grizzlies made the playoffs for the sixth straight year, but injuries caused Memphis to limp towards teh finish line, and bow out of the playoffs rather easily. This team has long been built around the big three of Marc Gasol (52 games played), Zach Randolph (68) and Mike Conley (56). All three suffered injury plagued seasons, and Memphis lacked the depth to make up for the loss of their three All Stars. The Grizzlies ended up with 28 players earning minutes for the franchise, which should tell you why they finished 42-40.

Players Under Contract

It all starts with the front court of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, who may be the two best players in franchise history. Gasol, fresh off a huge contract extension, was on his way to another fantastic season before an injury knocked him out for good. In today's run and gun NBA, the Grizzlies are built around Gasol's talents. Randolph is still effective, but after 31,000 minutes and 15 seasons, the end might be near.

The Grizzlies lack of depth is alarming, when you look at the remaining players under contract. Brandan Wright and Tony Allen are key role players. Allen remains one of the better defenders in the NBA, but missed a large chunk of games himself, and is 34 years old. Wright was held to only 12 games due to an injury of his own, and was not a factor. Notice a trend here?

The ageless Vince Carter actually managed to play in 60 games, but is bench fodder at this point in his career.

Jordan Adams and Jarell Martin are the only two youngsters still under contract. Adams has not developed since the Grizzlies made him a first round pick a couple years ago, and looks like a fringe NBA player. Martin was slightly more impressive, but only played in 27 games himself.

Lance Stephenson had a very nice run with the Grizzlies after being brought over from the Clippers, averaging 14.2 points per game on 47% shooting. Memphis obviously will not pick up his $9 million salary, but could look to resign him for a bit less money.

Free Agents

Mike Conley has developed into one of the better mid tier point guards in the league. Conley will never be flashy or dynamic enough to make the All Star game in the West, but he is vital to the success of the Grizzlies. Memphis was lost without him. Expect the Grizzlies to do everything they can to retain the nine year veteran, who has played his whole career in Memphis.

Matt Barnes was the only Grizzly to play over 68 games in 2015-2016. He had one of his better seasons, even at age 35. Expect him to chase a ring as his career winds down.

The rest of the Grizzlies free agents will fight for end of the bench roles with other teams, though Memphis could be interested in bringing back PJ Hairston.

Free Agent Targets

Considering Memphis resigns Conley, this will be a similar team, based around it's three franchise players. What Memphis desperately lacks is secondary scorers, especially at the wing positions. There is no starting caliber shooting guard or small forward under contract.

Memphis is not a premier free agent destination, so the Grizzlies could look at secondary options such as Kent Bazemore, OJ Mayo, Eric Gordon or Gerald Henderson could be options.

Trade Proposal

Grizzlies trade Zach Randolph to Pistons for Jodie Meeks, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Spencer Dinwiddie

If the Grizzlies want to get a bit younger and deeper, they could opt to trade Zach Randolph. Of course, Randolph is 35 and only has one more year on his contract, so he might not fetch much in return.

In this scanario, the Grizzlies get Caldwell-Pope, who finally broke out and has one more year on his deal. Caldwell-Pope can shoot, which makes him a nice fit next to Tony Allen on the wing.

I doubt the Grizzlies will trade Randolph though. They will probably try to give it one more chance with Gasol, Randolph and hopefully Conley.

NBA Draft

The Grizzlies pick 17th, which is the highest they have chosen in years. It is important that Memphis gets some value out of this draft pick, as they have failed to develop drafted players since this run started.

One player that would be a great fit would be Tiothe Luwawu of France. He has some simlarites to Tony Allen. He has the potential to be a strong wing defender and can knock down the three point shot as well.

Malik Beasley, Taurean Prince and Denzel Valentine are three other wing scorers who could be available with their pick.

In Summary

This is an important off season for the Grizzlies, but one that will probably not bring about much changes. Like last off season, when Marc Gasol resigned with Memphis right away, they will go hard to get Mike Conley under contract. That should happen, which would bring back the big three. The key will be to find the fountain of youth for Randolph and Allen, and keep Gasol and Conley healthy. Some depth and additional shooters would not hurt either. Unfortunately, in the ultra competitive West, time may have passed the Grizzlies by.

Jonathan Carrano

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